I heard a Fly buzz—when I died—

by Emily Dickinson

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How would you paraphrase the first stanza in "I heard a Fly buzz—when I died—"?

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“I heard a Fly buzz—when I died-(591)”

I heard a Fly buzz--when I died--

The Stillness in the Room

Was like the Stillness in the Air—

Between the Heaves of Storm—


This famous poem by Emily Dickinson suggests that at the point the narrator is in the process of dying, the last sound she hears is the buzzing of a fly.  Imagine a quiet room with a person on their death bed.  The room is so quiet that she is able to hear the faint buzz of a fly.  Dickinson uses a metaphor to describe the stillness of the room by comparing it to the “calm before the storm.”  Often in severe weather events, the air and environment goes quiet and still in anticipation of what is to come.  This is the quiet the narrator experiences before the “heave” or great effort it takes to live and give one self to death. 

However, the poem has been analyzed as Dickinson’s critique on Romantic poetry and fiction, but that is another question and requires a lot of analysis to understand how and why she does this. 


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